Legendary Football Fern’s ‘childhood dream’ capped with Phoenix captaincy

The Liberty A-League is back for the 2023-24 season and after a hugely successful Women’s World Cup in Australia, the stars are ready to put on a show in the domestic league.

Annalie Longo’s move to Wellington Phoenix ticked off a “childhood dream” and now the New Zealand legend is preparing to captain the Liberty A-League team after being appointed skipper.

Prized off-season recruit Longo will wear the captain’s armband, starting against Melbourne City in the team’s opener at Sky Stadium on Sunday, as injured star Lily Alfeld undergoes rehabilitation following another season-ending problem.


The Phoenix pulled off a major coup when they announced the signing of 131-time Football Fern and two-time A-League Women champion Longo for the 2023-24 season on the back of a memorable FIFA Women’s World Cup.

At the time, the 32-year-old described the move as a dream come true and the “missing piece” in he career, having always aspired to playing professional in New Zealand.

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“It’ll be an honour and a privilege to lead the side out this season,” Longo – who had agreed to play for the Phoenix in 2022-23 before injury ruined that plan – said following Wednesday’s announcement.

“I have so much belief in the squad and they’ve laid some very good foundations over the past two years. I want to continue that legacy, push forward and bring success to the club.

“There’s a really nice blend of experience and youthfulness in the group. We want to create a team full of leaders and if I can help drive the standards and togetherness of the group we’ll really push on and have a good season together.”

Fellow Fern Michaela Foster – Wellington’s reigning Women’s Player of the Year, and Chloe Knott, who deputised in the absence of Alfeld last season, are the vice-captains.

Longo added: “As my career’s gone on I certainly don’t feel like I need an armband to lead a team. I’m always vocal and I also try and help the younger players.

“Something that really motivates me and drives me is to make the players around me better and to make them see they’re capable of playing internationally, playing for the Ferns or getting a professional contract.

“It’s really motivating for me to see the young players come up and perform. One of my whys at this stage in my career is to help those around me and hopefully I can continue to do that with the Wellington Phoenix.”

Longo, who has won seven national league titles including six in eight years with Canterbury United Pride, was part of two Championship-winning sides in Australia.

She was part of the Sydney FC team that won the 2013 A-League Women Grand Final. Longo started the decider alongside the likes of Sam Kerr, Chloe Logarzo, Kyah Simon, Alanna Kennedy, Caitlin Foord and Teresa Polias.

Longo also won the 2021 Grand Final with Victory against former club Sydney.

Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said: “I think it’s a choice that everybody has bought into because of what Annalie brings on and off the pitch.

“I had some conversations with some of the players in Australia and Chloe and Mickey are really excited about being vice-captains and helping her.

“It was a pretty natural process for Annalie to become captain once she had joined us. Everybody understood the positive impact she was having on the team.”

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